Environmental activists block parts of central London in climate change protest

April 15, 2019

The Metropolitan Police says a total of 52 arrests have been made after environmental activists vandalised the London headquarters of oil giant Shell - in protests aimed at grinding the capital to a halt.

In what was initially described as a non-violent act of resistance and rebellion, protesters blocked five central locations and demanding the government declares a climate emergency.

However the demonstrations turned violent after windows were targeted at the Shell building in Lambeth, southeast London.

Three men and two women were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and were taken to central London police station.

Photos showed the building vandalised with graffiti and the glass of one of the revolving doors at the entrance was smashed to pieces.

When Sky News asked her if it was worth it, she said: "Oh God it was, I just want to protect the future for our children and wildlife.

"Shell are criminals".

Another protester glued her hand to the door of the Shell building and said: "I am willing to be arrested because I stand up for what I believe.

"Shell is responsible for a lot of damage that is being caused in our world".

Hundreds of people also blocked Waterloo Bridge, with Transport for London (TfL) saying the crossing was closed to traffic in both directions.

Trees and trucks were used to obstruct the busy Thames structure as campaign group Extinction Rebellion kicked off the protests, sharing pictures on social media of activists walking on the road.

"We have taken Waterloo bridge!", the group tweeted.

The busy shopping areas of Marble Arch, Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus were targeted as activists set out to create a "festival" of action including people's assemblies, performances, talks, workshops and food.

Activists have also converged onto Parliament Square, where they help up placards and waved flags as speakers took to the stage.

The movement hopes to prompt the government to take urgent action on climate change and wildlife declines.

It has received support from actress and activist Dame Emma Thompson, who previously said of the demonstrations: "It is time to stand up and save our home."

Former archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has also backed the movement.

Speaking at a mediation on Sunday night, he said: "We are here tonight to declare that we do not wish to be at war.

"We wish to make peace with ourselves by making peace with our neighbour Earth and with our God."

Protesters have been warned by Extinction Rebellion that they could face arrest for blocking traffic, while TfL said Londoners face travel delays.

A TfL spokesman said: "The safety of our customers and staff is our number one priority and we're working closely with the police to manage the impact on London's transport network.

"We would encourage people to check their journeys before they travel."

Organisers said the rebellion will be bringing London to a standstill for up to two weeks.

However Police have now imposed a control order under Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 meaning anyone taking part in further demonstrations in the next 24 hours would be breaking the law.

Demonstrators started arriving at London's Hyde Park on Sunday to take part in the protests.

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